Bacteria-coated solar panels generate energy even in cloudy weather

Microorganisms have successfully learned to use the energy of the Sun millions of years before the appearance of man - and people should learn from them. Researchers at the University of British Columbia have developed new technology to create biogenic solar panels that are radically superior to their counterparts. They are based on live bacteria E. Coli.

The traditional methods of using microbes in solar energy are barbaric - living creatures are poisoned with toxic solvents in order to extract from them important pigments involved in the process of photosynthesis. A team led by biologist Vikramaditya Yadava has proposed keeping the bacteria alive by altering their DNA. For this, the E. coli culture was planted on a glass substrate and covered with a layer of transparent semiconductor material.

In such conditions, bacteria will die anyway, but far from immediately, and the energy they generate in the process of life will be immediately diverted to the storage devices. To make the process more efficient, scientists used a genetically modified version of E. coli, with increased production of the pigment lycopene, a participant in photosynthesis. And we got a current density of 0.686 milliamperes per square meter. see, which is twice as high as in existing biogenic solar panels.

What is even more interesting, in the course of their vital activity, the modified bacteria managed to capture the maximum of photons, continuing to generate energy even in cloudy weather. And the cost of creating a plate with microbes is 10 times lower than using constructions with pure pigment. It remains to solve the problem of bacteria survival and it will be possible to talk about a new direction in the development of energy.